Let's take a look at this key NFC West matchup:
How huge a game is this for the Cardinals? A loss would put them three games out of the divisional lead so a win is imperative.
First, the good news. Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) fully participated in practice yesterday and is expected to play. He should be matched up with cornerback Richard Sherman. Another great matchup to watch inside the game.
Watch the Red Birds try and get the ball as much as they can to rookie Andre Ellington. He has been so impressive this season, especially when he gets in open space. Rashard Mendenhall is still the starting running back but Ellington is looking like a future star. He scored on 15-yard gallop last week against the Niners so the Seahawks have to be very aware of the University of Clemson product.
Quarterback Carson Palmer (7 TD, 11 INT) has had an up-and-down season and must be protected to be effective. Defensively, end Calais Campbell (neck/spine) is questionable to play and will be missed if he can suit up. He is second on the team with 3.5 sacks and is an emotional leader.
Arizona will try and contain the very quick and elusive Russell Wilson, Seattle's QB. He is one of the most exciting players in the league and can break open a 3-and-10 situation into a first down with his feet. The Cardinals need to create turnovers and have one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, led by linebacker Karlos Dansby.
The Seahawks were a wild card contingent last season but they have their eyes on the NFC West crown this time around.
Pete Carroll's club ranks second in the league in total defense (290.2 YPG) and third in scoring (15.7 PPG). They will try and put as much pressure as possible on Palmer, who is very turnover prone.
Marshawn Lynch is the main offensive cog for the Seahawks – he is third in the NFL in rushing with 437 yards. He also is tied for second with five touchdowns. Lynch makes Seattle go as does Wilson,the fleet-footed signal-caller. Wilson (8 TD, 4 INT) also has 294 rushing yards so the Cardinals must try and contain him in the pocket.
The Seahawks and Cardinals split their two games last season. The last time they met, in Seattle, the Hawks destroyed Arizona, 58-0. Don't think the Red Birds have forgotten that. It was the worst loss in team history and memories are short. They want to make Seattle pay for that embarrassment in front of what should be a very loud crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Prediction: Cardinals 16, Seahawks 13.
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